Stock Analysis

Is Pharming Group (AMS:PHARM) Using Too Much Debt?

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David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the permanent loss of capital.' So it might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. Importantly, Pharming Group N.V. (AMS:PHARM) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

Check out our latest analysis for Pharming Group

How Much Debt Does Pharming Group Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Pharming Group had US$121.6m of debt in September 2022, down from US$142.7m, one year before. However, its balance sheet shows it holds US$188.7m in cash, so it actually has US$67.1m net cash.

ENXTAM:PHARM Debt to Equity History March 16th 2023

A Look At Pharming Group's Liabilities

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Pharming Group had liabilities of US$46.7m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$135.4m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$188.7m and US$28.8m worth of receivables due within a year. So it can boast US$35.5m more liquid assets than total liabilities.

This short term liquidity is a sign that Pharming Group could probably pay off its debt with ease, as its balance sheet is far from stretched. Simply put, the fact that Pharming Group has more cash than debt is arguably a good indication that it can manage its debt safely.

Also good is that Pharming Group grew its EBIT at 13% over the last year, further increasing its ability to manage debt. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Pharming Group can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. Pharming Group may have net cash on the balance sheet, but it is still interesting to look at how well the business converts its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, because that will influence both its need for, and its capacity to manage debt. During the last three years, Pharming Group generated free cash flow amounting to a very robust 82% of its EBIT, more than we'd expect. That puts it in a very strong position to pay down debt.

Summing Up

While it is always sensible to investigate a company's debt, in this case Pharming Group has US$67.1m in net cash and a decent-looking balance sheet. The cherry on top was that in converted 82% of that EBIT to free cash flow, bringing in US$25m. So is Pharming Group's debt a risk? It doesn't seem so to us. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Pharming Group that you should be aware of before investing here.

If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.

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